Thoughts on birth (sorry)

Feel free to skip this if you aren’t interested in meditations on childbirth!

When I was pregnant with Mabel, I spent almost no time thinking about birth (until I reached 30-something weeks and got obsessed with reading birth stories). I don’t have the same luxury this time around, unfortunately. It feels less scary this time, but I would still prefer to relax and wait to see what happens without lots of discussion about what-ifs and planning.

I didn’t share Mabel’s full birth story on here, but the very abbreviated version is that I had a very quick emergency Caesarean following an induction. It was all handled extraordinarily well. The doctor was brilliant and she explained what was happening between contractions and even complimented my Harry Potter slippers on the way to the delivery suite. I didn’t and don’t feel traumatized by it at all, though there is part of me that regrets agreeing to the induction – could I have avoided a C section if I had just waited it out? But there were some weird things going on that it was hard to pinpoint the cause of (and some of the potential causes were quite scary), and on balance I know it was the right thing to do given the information available to me at the time.

Nonetheless, I do wish I hadn’t needed one. I didn’t like the anesthetic and the recovery, though it went well, was still quite painful. And if I’m really, really honest, sometimes I feel like I cheated and didn’t really give birth (even though I know it’s not true and that it would never, ever occur to me about another mum who had a Caesarean). But there you go. Feelings are stupid things sometimes, aren’t they? The other effect is that for my second pregnancy I am under the care of a consultant rather than midwives. This won’t be massively different, as far as I can tell (though I’m getting extra scans due to the complications mentioned above), but it does mean that I’ve already had to have conversations with healthcare professionals about what kind of birth I want, i.e. another C-section or a VBAC. To their credit, they’ve been very clear that I don’t need to make my decision yet and that I can change my mind. But frankly, it is too soon for this. I don’t want to be comparing potential outcomes of the two options; I’d rather be enjoying my bump. I’ve always taken the view that, while birth is amazing, it is also in many ways the least significant part of becoming a mother, and my experience with Mabel hasn’t disproved that. I guess I am nervous that thinking about birth too much will make me panic and ruin not just the actual birth (if I don’t get what I decide I want) but also the pregnancy and the very early days with the baby.

I guess what I’m saying is, birth is complicated and given that I am not prepared to think about living with another baby yet, it is hardly surprising that I am also not prepared to think about it yet (even if it is a less scary prospect this time). And yet here I am, writing a blog post titled “Thoughts on birth”. Hm. What a hypocrite I am. Anyway, if you have found yourself in a similar situation, I would love to hear from you! I can’t be the only person who didn’t want to have a really detailed birth plan, can I?

4 thoughts on “Thoughts on birth (sorry)”

  1. I didn’t want a detailed birth plan because I didn’t want to end up disappointing myself if things went opposite of what I hoped for. I had an urgent c section the first time (no labor, just found out he needed out asap and went straight to surgery prep). With my second baby I really hoped I’d get a vbac but I tried so hard not to imagine that it would actually happen. I did end up with a successful vbac with both my second baby and my third. I’m pregnant again and definitely hoping for another vaginal birth (hello, less recovery time!) but based on my past experiences, I know anything is possible and really in the end, it’s just a matter of getting him here safely. 🙂

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  2. My birth plan for both my kids was “give birth.” Seriously, all I cared about was that the baby and I came out of it successfully. That, however, did not prevent me from feeling a bit as if I cheated, just as you feel, after I had two c-sections. I had several people who commiserated with me for missing out on the “wonderful experience of a natural delivery” and this made me feel very insecure at the time. The thing is, now my kids are 13 and 18 and no one cares how they were born. They are here and that is good enough. I don’t think worrying about birth plans helps much, though it is hard to avoid, because birth is so dependant on the situation of the moment. Enjoy your pregnancy, give birth however is necessary at the time, and enjoy your baby. I hope this comment makes sense. After all these years, I still have a lot of feelings about the pressure and judgment sometimes inflicted on new mothers.

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  3. I didn’t want a detailed birth plan. First time, it was basically “give birth with as little intervention as I can but as much intervention as I need”. Second time, as you know, I had a home birth and that was the entire plan – my midwife kept asking things like, “Which room would you like to give birth in?” and I couldn’t get my head around how I was supposed to know.

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  4. Although I only made it to (almost) three months pregnant, I’d thought about the birth a lot. As an ‘older mum’ there were already certain pressures and expectations, which I immediately reacted against. I didn’t want a plan, but I didn’t want ‘precautions’ either, I wanted my birth to be whatever it would be, the baby would decide at the time. But I had planned to research and be prepared for every outcome, to be informed, but not just by those who were looking after me, but by independent research too. I’d read a lot about healthcare professionals that try to get you to do what they want by playing up the pros and cons to suit. I guess I’m a bit suspicious of everyone! I don’t subscribe to the theory that a healthy baby is all that matters because the mother matters too, and so much pressure is heaped upon them, from too many sources, and too many ‘well meaning’ people. I guess I just wanted everyone to stay out of it and let it happen.

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